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A CurtainUp Review
It was a rare delight to watch the dear old man reach the peak of folly— but the end of the discussion was my favorite part.— "Reimbursement. Brother Timothy
When you hear the name, "Machiavelli" do you think, "What a funny guy""? If you don't, then you need to see The Mandrake, his 500 year old sex comedy. Paired with Romeo and Juliet in rotating rep, it's a crazy, great choice for Quintessence Theatre Group's "love and lust"" autumn theme. The Mandrake opens with a delightful and audience winning prologue delivered by Jahzeer Terrell. A wealthy, wayward young man (Alan Brincks) schemes and plots with his servant accomplice (Connor Hammond) and an out-there deal broker (Josh Carpenter) to trick an old fuddy duddy (Gregory Isaac) and seduce his yummy young wife (Emiley Kiser).
Gregory Isaac (L) Josh Carpenter (R)(Photo by Shawn May)
Everyone's a naughty amoral fraud in this ribald play directed by Alexander Burns, and the cast evidently gets a big kick out of doing it. They're so energized and silly it's hard to imagine that these same actors, ping-ponging between comedy and tragedy, did R&J last night. Broadly acted, the performance is like commedia dell'arte minus the stock characters, with occasional harmonic a cappella singing (Anita Holland shines). A farce full of outrageous lies and scheming, it's downright Machiavellian.
Kudos to E. Ashley Izard, whose magnificent weird mother is a cross between a malicious Bette Davis and the Wicked Witch of the West. Josh Carpenter's crafty, unctuous, twisting Ligurio delights. And no mischief is beneath Sean Close's deftly played compromised cleric, Brother Timothy, especially when money is involved.
The audience that clearly found The Mandrake immensely entertaining last night was predominantly older and white. This is the case at so many theaters. The vibrant young Quintessence Theatre Group, in residence at the Sedgwick Theater in Mount Airy, is all about attracting new audiences. The company is a perfect fit for a more inclusive multicultural and age-diversified crowd. Tickets are not expensive for a fun night out. Where are you Gen Xers and Millenials? Do rush to see it, as the play closes Nov 8.
The Mandrake by Machiavelli
Translated by Wallace Shawn
Directed by Alexander Burns
Cast: Alan Brinks, Josh Carpenter, Sean Close, Connor Hammond, Anita Holland, Gregory Isaac, E. Ashley Izard, Emiley Kiser, Jahzeer Terrell
Scenic Design: Alexander Burns
Composer: David Cope
Lighting Design: David Sexton
Costume Design: Jane Casanave
Choreographer: Janet Pilla Marini
Approx 2 hours including one 10 minute intermission
Quintessence Theatre Group
Reviewed by Kathryn Osenlund based on 10/30/15 performance. Sedgwick Theater, Germantown Ave, Mount Airy, Philadelphia.
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